Tours and Tickets
Northern Explorer Train Journey from Wellington to Auckland
4

Northern Explorer Train Journey from Wellington to Auckland

By Northern Explorer Train
About
Travel from Wellington to Tongariro National Park or Auckland by train for a scenic ride that passes through the Kapiti Coast, the Waikato countryside, and the Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu mountains. With well-appointed carriages and outdoor viewing decks, the train from Wellington to Auckland is a beautiful way to see the North Island, and GPS-triggered audio commentary is available through headsets at every seat.
from
$203.75
per adult
Lowest price guaranteeReserve now & pay laterFree cancellation

Ages 0-99, max of 15 per group
Duration: 11h
Start time: Check availability
Mobile ticket
Audio guide: Chinese, English
More

Highlights
  • Ride one segment or take the whole spectacular journey
  • Indoor and outdoor spaces are great for sightseeing
  • GPS-triggered audio helps you explore the landscape
  • Disembark at Tongariro National Park or Auckland

  • One Way Rail Journey
  • GPS triggered audio commentary
  • All taxes, fees and handling charges
What's not included
  • Alcoholic drinks (available to purchase)
  • Food and drinks (available to purchase)
  • Hotel pickup and drop-off
  • Excess luggage charges (where applicable)

Make your way to the Wellington Railway Station or the train station in Tongariro National Park, where you’ll board a train heading north. The journey passes through a mix of farmland, rural towns, and coastline, but the three volcanoes of Tongariro National Park are a scenic highlight; rail enthusiasts will be love the Raurimu Spiral that helps the train climb the dramatic slope. You’ll see lava flows, snow fields, and forests of beech trees while the GPS-triggered audio commentary fills you in on the passing landmarks. The trains are equipped with dining carriages that have drinks, snacks, and light meals available for purchase, and by the time you arrive at Tongariro National Park or the Auckland Railway Station, you’ll have covered some of the North Island’s most remarkable scenery.

Start:
  • Wellington Station, Bunny Street, Pipitea, Wellington 6011, New Zealand
Additional pickup options
During checkout you will be able to select from the list of included pickup points.
  • Wellington Station, Bunny Street, Pipitea, Wellington 6011, New Zealand
End:
  • Auckland Strand, Parnell, Auckland 1010, New Zealand

  • Infants must sit on laps
  • Wheelchair accessible
  • Pushchair accessible
  • Service animals allowed
  • Near public transportation
  • Transportation is wheelchair accessible
If you have questions about accessibility, we’d be happy to help. Just call the number below and reference the product code: 59907P2

  • Wheelchair accessible, please advise at time of booking if travelling with a wheelchair.
  • Children must be accompanied by an adult
  • Please arrive at least 20 minutes prior to scheduled departure and check in at the station to receive your boarding pass. Please have your Viator Voucher ready for inspection.
  • Most travellers can participate
  • This tour/activity will have a maximum of 15 travellers

  • For a full refund, cancel at least 24 hours in advance of the start date of the experience.

Which attractions will I visit with Northern Explorer Train Journey from Wellington to Auckland?
How much is Northern Explorer Train Journey from Wellington to Auckland?
Northern Explorer Train Journey from Wellington to Auckland price starts from $202.54. Discover and book Northern Explorer Train Journey from Wellington to Auckland on Tripadvisor
What is the Northern Explorer Train Journey from Wellington to Auckland cancellation policy?
Northern Explorer Train Journey from Wellington to Auckland cancellation policy: For a full refund, cancel at least 24 hours in advance of the start date of the experience. Discover and book Northern Explorer Train Journey from Wellington to Auckland on Tripadvisor
Which company provides Northern Explorer Train Journey from Wellington to Auckland?
Northern Explorer Train Journey from Wellington to Auckland is hosted by Northern Explorer Train. Read reviews, discover additonal experiences or contact Northern Explorer Train on Tripadvisor. Discover and book Northern Explorer Train Journey from Wellington to Auckland on Tripadvisor

If you have questions about this tour or need help making your booking, we’d be happy to help. Just call the number below and reference the product code: 59907P2

Reserve your spot

Similar experiences

About the operator
Don’t take it from us – here’s what people have to say about this operator:
  • Northern Explorer Train
    686
    Wellington, New Zealand
    Joined in April 2010
  • John W
    0 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    The way to go.
    After the dismal third world Strand station, it can only get better, and it does. The ride is smooth, the seats comfortable and the views captivating. There is a periodic commentary in english and mandarin available on headsets distributed free by the staff, on the history, both human and natural, of the places we pass. It is informative and interesting, and enhanced my enjoyment of the journey. The scenery is great for the first two thirds of the journey; once the train descends to the plains it gets monotonous. On a clear day the views of distant mountains would be great. On this trip the volcanoes were clouded over, but the near scenery was attractive, sometimes spectacular: pretty valleys with no road, and viaducts passing high over deep gorges. The observation car, with no windows or seats, is a great place to view the gorges and the Raurimu spiral, but dress warmly - it can be cold and windy. The buffet car serves drinks, snacks and heated food. There is no wifi but USB sockets are provided. The last part of the journey was in darkness, and the train pulled in to Wellington station ahead of schedule.
    Written 18 May 2024
  • mdc12963
    0 contributions
    3.0 of 5 bubbles
    northen explorer trip
    its a nice trip no commentry comfortable seats tables you can eat at there is a cafe carrage where you can buy food and drink and a viewing car
    Written 4 May 2024
  • Snarth
    0 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    Pleasant way to spend a travel day
    We enjoyed this very long train ride, although rain and low clouds did obscure some of the views we were expecting. The cars are clean, the service very well organized, and there is an upbeat vibe to the whole thing, which is obviously geared to tourists with time on their hands. It's a nice way to get a feel for the landscape rather than flying over it. We didn't find the audio commentary very fascinating and gave it a pass eventually.
    Written 8 April 2024
  • DayTrip599747
    0 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Very pleasant
    Very pleasant and comfortable. Glad to have met some fellow travelers with whom we will spend time in the future. Seeing the beautiful landscapes was rewarding.
    Written 6 April 2024
  • DudleyandFreda
    0 contributions
    3.0 of 5 bubbles
    Not up to want we expected
    Was something to tick off the bucket list, a very long boring 13 hours! Done, would not do again. Have to say the staff were amazing!
    Written 5 April 2024
  • gap770
    0 contributions
    2.0 of 5 bubbles
    Long,delayed ride with little scenery of note
    I you like to ride trains, this would be an enjoyable trip. For me, ran out of sandwiches 4 hours into 11 hour journey, nothing real spectacular on the scenery and an hour late. As I said if you’re looking for a relaxing trip on a train, this is for you. Too long and uninteresting to me.
    Written 23 March 2024
  • Blueymac
    0 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    Enjoyable trip
    Travelled from Auckland to Wellington. When booking as a couple ask for two seat configuration much better than sharing four seat configuration. Commentary was good. Long trip but enjoyable. Beware large taxi driver with white hair and long white beard at Wellington Train Station, make sure meter is on.
    Written 19 March 2024
  • Journey11452509861
    0 contributions
    1.0 of 5 bubbles
    Bad seats in a packed wagon
    Went as a couple . The railway company provided seats looking backwards against the wall. Cannot travel for hours like this. When we asked if we can have other seats nothing was available. So if you get seats in row 2 you will look backwards, face people you don’t know or the wall behind them. Way out was buying something to eat and sit in the dining, but the manager asked us to go back after a while and make place for others. Which would be ok if we had acceptable places…
    Written 8 March 2024
  • SamGreep
    0 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    Very beautiful, very comfortable, but very long
    Very beautiful, very scenic, but very long (longer than expected due to having to reduce the train speed, and stop for other trains) train ride. Comfortable seats and enjoyable commentary at interesting points. Viewing cart gets very busy during scenic highlights. No WiFi on board but there are USB chargers if you have data. Food was well priced. Glad I did it for the scenery and it's an amazing way to conveniently see so much of it (especially if you don't drive) but think once is definitely enough.
    Written 7 March 2024
  • nevillesc
    0 contributions
    1.0 of 5 bubbles
    GIVE NORTHERN EXPLORER A MISS.
    About time Luxon & his drop kicks ,roused up government owned (or subsidised) tourist travel. Many complaints from northern explorer customers,(most Australian). Not good enough, it seems they cancel when numbers are low, use what ever excuse they think of, rumour is they do it often. Mine was "malfunction catering car" staff at Hamilton said the service was cancelled the previous day, which says the trains could be in Wellington, making it impossible to run Auckland>Wellington. My trip was Feb 1,I am a kiwi, Australian permanent resident, never done the main trunk. The train was cancelled,& a bus replacement took us to Palmerston north. The bus had to follow the train stops, although not many got on or off, Taumaranui had no passengers on or off, but law says they must meet obligations .I have done the road trip, just wanted to do the viaducts & bridges. Had kiwi rail advised me ,I might have flown or driven. As a country in need of every tourist $$ this is not good enough, there were only a few passengers to Palmerston north, bus was 1/3rd full. one may think they cut services on low numbers, but how do they increase customers, when they have terrible service. Excuses mean little, operate to a timetable, or shut it down. sell it off to Pahiatua railcar society, who can restore the silver fern railcars for a historical trip. Kiwi rail are stuck with a costly obsolete train. service ,not excuses. The catering car excuse was laughed at. The inter island ferries are a joke as well,& the new mob cuts funds for new ships. Air N.Z. have engineering issues ,tell no one until the day of travel, cancel at will. If N.Z wants tourists it has to lift it's game. Trans Tasman travel is terrible ,huge hassle for a short trip. Get your act together N.Z. I travelled north island Jan 19>Feb 20,2024
    Written 21 February 2024
  • Dream15205860119
    0 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Excellent way to travel the length of the North Island.
    We did the trip from Wellington to Auckland. Very well organised from the start - check in and getting our luggage on the luggage carriage took less than 10 minutes. Seats were comfortable and roomy. We were in carriage A next to the viewing carriage, which was great for seeing the many interesting sights en route. Food and drinks were reasonably priced. Yes, it’s a long day, but that is made clear in the marketing, however there is so much to see (other than the final stretch into Auckland until you get close to the city).
    Written 20 February 2024
  • susanwI4918TV
    0 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    Overall, an interesting experience!
    Good points: • Very scenic, with memorable views of the island’s volcanoes, mountain ranges, and viaducts (and farms!). • Periodic audio commentary (headphones provided), had a relaxed style and was very informative (highlighted mainly geographic and economic features, with a few stories mixed in). • Good food ($5.50nzd for a cappuccino, $4.50 - 5nzd for a cookie/slice of cake, and $26 for the lamb shank meal (this comes pre-packaged with wooden cutlery, and they heat it up for you). You can eat in your seat or in the dining car (seating is limited). • Friendly service. • We left on-time, and arrived only a bit late – the train manager kept us well-informed. Not-so-good points: • The seating was a little more crammed than I expected, but still more legroom than the standard economy class on a plane. • We travelled in summer, so the carriage become quite warm and stuffy during the afternoon. Better ventilation or having the option of small fans (like on planes) would surely improve this. Overall, a very nice all-day train journey and a great way to see the interior of New Zealand's North Island.
    Written 15 January 2024
  • Travel24450867626
    0 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Great views
    This was a great experience. We took the train from Wellington to Auckland Strand and although the ride was a bit bumpy, the scenery makes up for it. The food in the cafeteria was also affordable, definitely recommend.
    Written 13 January 2024
  • 847nigelb
    0 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Volcanoes and Gorges!
    The first 1.5 hours going through the industrial areas of southern Auckland is not interesting but gets much much better. Seats comfy for the longish trip, plenty food and drink, staff great. Lucky to get perfect day for snowy volcano viewing.
    Written 14 December 2023
  • Passenger05286359390
    0 contributions
    2.0 of 5 bubbles
    Noisy
    We just completed the trip Auckland to Wellington. The seats were fine the food great the . The scenery good but the trip was long especially when you have a group that only want to party. Grand parents,parents and kids that did not care about anyone else on the train. When we asked them to keep it down we were insulated. The manager of the train did not care about the noise as you cannot control anyone talking. Of course we found out later that he was friends with this group, He needs to have better control.
    Written 14 December 2023
See all 686 reviews
These reviews are the subjective opinions of Tripadvisor members and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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Detailed Reviews: Reviews ordered by recency and descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as waiting time, length of visit, general tips, and location information.

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4.0
4.0 of 5 bubbles413 reviews
Excellent
214
Very good
116
Average
41
Poor
20
Terrible
22

Pat D
Burton upon Trent, UK8 contributions
2.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2020
Travelled from Wellington to Auckland on the Northern Explorer. Took 11hrs. Having stayed in Wellington with family and 'done' that area, we were hoping to see some new and spectacular variety of New Zealand terrain. Yes, we did see a couple of gorges and a brief passage along the Kapiti coast, however the rest of the journey was laborious with very little change in the type of scenery. Flat plateau or grassy hillocks. Lots of pampas grass and greenery, but nothing particularly interesting and certainly nothing spectacular! Didn't get to see the volcano as it was misty at that point. On a positive note, the organization of getting on the train and the facilities on board were good and clean. Would only recommend this journey as a means to get from Wellington to Auckland without flying, but would advise anyone to just get on a plane for hour and spend the rest of your time in Auckland. Just another tip.......check with your hotel how much you can expect to pay for a taxi from Auckland Strand to them, as we were unfortunately 'fleeced' by the taxi driver who charged us 20 dollars for a journey of less than 5 minutes. Was so despondent and tired from the journey we didn't fight back! Fed up that we took this option.
Written 3 February 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Kevin J
1 contribution
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Nov 2022
Relaxing on a train and taking in the great scenery is what we’re all looking for here, but looking at some of the previous reviews and adding it to our experience, you should be warned this journey clearly does not run according to plan on too many occasions not to take into consideration when thinking about booking.
As stated, it’s an 11 hour journey, long enough even when it all runs on time. I had read about the breakdowns and delays before booking but decided to take our chances.
Within a couple of hours of departing, it was announced that the train was going to terminate early as heavy rain had caused landslip problems further up the line. We would all be packed onto coaches and in our case a double decker bus and taken the rest of the way by that mode. Before we got to the place all of us and our cases were to be chucked off, we were subjected to about an hour delay for some other reason that was not explained that clearly, but had something to do with waiting for workmen to put out speed restriction signs.
On our bus journey of about 5-6 hours we were treated to a stop at a Macdonalds (whoopee!) where the driver had to take an enforced break.
The journey by bus with no toilet or restaurant facilities is not exactly a pleasurable experience. This was made all the more frustrating when, a couple of hours into the journey the road ran alongside the railway line and yes, you couldn’t make it up, there our train honed into view and sailed past us Auckland bound for tomorrow’s passengers!
Within a couple of minutes we heard the sound of our (probably embarrassed) Rep shuffling up the bus stairs with the ‘Management Decision’ explanation as to why we weren’t still on the train!
Got to our destination in Auckland 2 hours late, day ruined and evening plans ruined.
It seems to me that the uniqueness of this journey with the terrain that the single rail track passes through makes this journey overly susceptible to delays and terminations.
Please bear this in mind when deciding to book. If it all ran smoothly it is a pretty good day out.
Written 8 December 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Damien M
1 contribution
2.0 of 5 bubbles
Nov 2022
Our trip north from Wellington had been comfortable and scenic when the train broke down north of Hamilton. This led to unavoidable delays while those engineering issues were addressed. What happened next was unconscionable, however. We were disembarked at night at Papakura with an offer to bus us into Auckland. One bus did arrive but was insufficient to carry the number of passengers from the train. That left the slow to collect baggage, frail, elderly and disabled to fend for themselves late into the night. We were travelling with a 93 year old parent and paid for an Uber to get us into Auckland. Many other older passengers didn’t have that facility and no cabs were available, leaving them feeling anxious. Appalling behaviour Kiwi Rail!
Written 13 November 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Hardys607
Feilding, New Zealand103 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2020
We flew up to Auckland and decided to take the train trip back. The station staff were excellent, we were in carriage A and found the seats comfortable, we enjoyed the trip, loved the scenery, the toilets clean, the outside carriage good to view from. The cafe had a good selection, initially my husband was told to come back later as they were serving the tour groups. My coffee was good as was the sandwiches. Later I went into the cafe and decided on a cheeseboard with 2 small bottles on wine. Unfortunately at the cafe attendant preferred to talk to another staff member than look at me while she was serving me. I asked loudly if I was invisible and this really irritated her. When getting off the train once again great staff taking off the bags and wishing us well. So we enjoyed the trip but the customer service at the cafe really needs addressing!!!!
Written 15 February 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Jaybee767
Sydney, Australia67 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
This could be an outstanding experience, but I think it needs to be modernised.

There is no way to pre assign seating, so we sent an email with our request that was accommodated. We missed the “no wheeled bags in the carriage” that is on the ticket, no one could explain why a small, airplane carryon bag that happened to have 2 wheels was a no-no. It had to be checked in so some last minute reorganising was required.
The carriage is comfortable enough with enough space between seats that we were comfortable for the 11+ hours (will come back to that). Large windows afford good views. There is a viewing carriage that is open on the sides to allow unobstructed viewing and photography, this worked really well.
The coffee on board was ok and pre packaged food acceptable, but nothing to rave about.
There is a commentary track that was very informative and can be heard through headphones plugged in to the seat. The plug location between the seats meant that the headsets or jacks get damaged, one of ours was terrible.
I don’t know if it is the rolling stock or the track, but 11+ hours for what is a 1 hour flight is really long. We did it in summer so there was plenty of light arriving at 7pm, but in winter the last few hours would be in darkness.

Arrival at Auckland was shambolic. All the passengers stood on the narrow platform with bags being unloaded. First you couldn’t get to the bag area, then those who got bags couldn’t get through the crowd trying to get to the bags. All this was out on an open platform, I can’t imagine how it would go if it was raining.

We are glad that we did the trip, but it is definitely a one-off experience though.
If there were some improvements (how about wifi) it would be just so much better.
Written 29 November 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Mark B
Aurora, CO2 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2022
Disappointing. We have been told that wifi is usually available on this train by native New Zealanders who ride, but not available on our train. A very large group of senior citizens on tour dominated the coaches, chattered constantly, and ate most of the food. The food was already limited because (after the train left the station) we were informed that the cafe car had no electricity. So, only instant coffee, limited food selection, and that ran out and was not restocked on the stops the train made. Delays on arrival into Auckland seemed predictable given that it's not a surprise when the train arrives and that there would be conflicts with local commuter trains.

Only one car open to the outside, and no seating on that car, so our choice were to stand and get rained on in the back, or sit in the overheated main car and listen to the tour group narrate the trip to each other...
Written 26 October 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Kaia P
1 contribution
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2023 • Family
The train itself is nice and you would think everyone would get seating with a table and space however this is not true. Tables are priority given to groups of 3 or more although everyone pays the same price. If you don’t have a table you are stuck in economy airline style rows of seats with no space whatsoever and they certainly are not clean. There is a small ‘dining’ area with about 8 seats and some tables which is surely not enough for the entire train? but again I think it is wrong that everyone pays the same price to not get the luxury of space and comfort like others get..? Staff on the other hand were rude, told us we will have to leave the dining table as we had “sat there too long” when we were clearly still eating and no one else was sitting in the area. Bad experience and not good enough to sit on this train for 11 hours
Written 30 June 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Fred L
Melbourne, Australia23 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
After viewing a travel show in Australia that highlighted nz rail journey, we decided to give it a go.
The train was comfortable and staff courteous. A small kitchen cart enable food and beverages to be purchased.
This is all good until the train arrival times blew out to just over 2 hours late arriving in Wellington- yes 2 hours late! We missed our next connection and had to get accomodation for the night and rebook.
You might imagine our extreme angst for most of the journey knowing we risked missing our connection.
Well never again! I think Australian trains are unreliable- but not like this.
Written 10 February 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

jess braddz
Rotorua, New Zealand2 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2023 • Family
Unfortunately the train was delayed for 30 mins by the freight train ahead of us. This meant we had to get off the train early and left us stranded in freezing conditions in ohakune with 2 small children. Ensure you have at least an hour in-between linking travel. The bus we were connecting with was then 2 hours late, making us wait outside in the cold for over 4 hours, the worse experience in NZ so far. Such a huge amount of money to travel in NZ and it's such a huge disappointment. Could of brought flights to Aus with the same amount of money!
Written 5 July 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Greg P
4 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2024 • Family
Poor behaving and possibly drunk passengers were not managed by staff, ruining the trip for all other travellers. They serve boiling water drinks for passengers to carry through carriages on rickety rails past other customers. This is a recipe for disaster. I was scalded through this practice and the solution?I was handed a cold bottle of milk to put on a scald between my fingers! Hundreds of passengers, boiling water, rickety rails and no first aid kit?. Third world standards!
Intercity busses are luxury compared to this.
Written 21 April 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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